The 3 Basic Strategies of Closing a Sale

Businesswoman shaking hands with client
Cavan Images/Iconica/Getty Images

One of the hardest lessons for new salespeople to learn is the importance of closing every sale. The close doesn't have to be as difficult as it seems. If you did a good job of presenting the product and responded to the prospect's objections, the close follows naturally. However, if things didn't go quite so smoothly, you may need to give the prospect a bit of a nudge to successfully close the sale. Here are a few strategies which may help when the simple approach fails.

The Assumptive Close

The assumptive close is the most generic and the one to use if you haven't been able to fit the prospect to a more customized close. After making the presentation and answering the prospect's questions, ask a question that assumes your prospect is about to buy the product. Here are a few examples:​

  • Would you prefer red or blue?
  • Our standard delivery can have this to you by Tuesday, or will you need our rush delivery option?
  • Will ten units do for a start?
  • I can get you a 10% discount if you pay for a year in advance, would that work for you?
  • Will you be having fries or onion rings with your meal?

OK, you probably won't use that last one very often. It shouldn't be too difficult to come up with a handful of similar assumptive questions that fit your product(s) or service(s).

The Time-Limit Close

This is a good one to use if your prospect utters the fatal phrase “I'd like to think it over first.” Pause for a beat, then nod thoughtfully and say something like this:

“I can certainly understand your wanting to think about this, but I want to let you know now that the model you'd like is a popular one and we're usually understocked. I'd hate for you to be stuck with a model that's not as good a fit just because this one's not available tomorrow!”

Or mention a discount that will expire in two days or a promotion such as a gift with purchase that's about to end. Of course, this only works if such a limitation exists – never lie to a prospect! You may be able to work with your sales manager to come up with limited-time offers to use if you don't have company-wide ones.

The Custom Close

If you've qualified the customer well, you've probably gathered a lot of information about their preferences (color, size, features, quality level, the amount they're ready to spend, etc.). When you're ready to close, look at your notes about the prospect's needs and say something like this:

“So, you need an LCD TV that's big enough for everyone in the living room to see clearly, that costs not more than $500, and you'd prefer it in silver. Are there any other features you'd like?”

Wait for the prospect to answer, then assuming they say 'no' smile and say...

“Luckily our XCL 5560 is a perfect fit for you! It has all those features plus it comes with our advanced sound system, and it's yours for just $399. All I need is your signature and I'll have it delivered right to your home by the end of the week.”

Still smiling, hand over the contract and point out the signature line. Since you've already accounted for everything the prospect says they want in a TV, it's unlikely they'll back out now. If the prospect does hesitate at this point, he likely has some unresolved objections. You'll need to find out what they are and help the prospect overcome them in order to close the sale.